In today’s world, there are many variations to the “traditional” family holiday consisting of two married parents and their children.
New research from Comparetravelinsurance.com.au has shown nearly 60 per cent of parents say they would continue to travel with their children in the aftermath of a separation.
To find out more, Travel Weekly sat down with Compare Insurance Associate Director Natalie Ball to chat about out why single parents are so often forgotten in the world of travel, and what can be done in the future to make options accessible to every type of family.
For Ball, just as the definition of a traditional family is changing, so too is the way we travel as families.
“If you’re an average Australian family of two adults and two children, things are relatively simple when it comes to booking travel, yet when it comes to a single-parent family, stress levels can soar as the holiday season approaches,” Ball said.
“In addition to worrying about how to fund the holiday and the extended time away from work, separated parents have to consider the other parent’s plans and seek consent when taking the children interstate or overseas,” she added.
So why are single parents forgotten?
The ever growing demographic of lone-parent families are often ignored when it comes to travel services and advertised deals.
Amongst hotels and restaurants, the popular catch phrase ‘kids eat free’ or ‘kids stay free’ is usually based on a two paying adults, rendering the deal less attractive when you’re having to pay for the non-existent other half.
When it comes to tourist attractions, family passes are also based on a ‘traditional’ family structure, rendering the deal unaffordable for lone-parents.
Single parents are also somewhat alienated when it comes to the imagery used to portray an ideal family holiday, we’re all too familiar with the holiday image of the overtly happy couple on a white sandy beach tossing a toddler or two in the air.
How is their travelling behaviour different to couples?
Travelling with kids in tow is going to be a challenge no matter what, but even more so without an extra hand.
Couples generally have an extra set of hands, a second disciplinary voice and can act as a tag team to allow some individual downtime.
This generally means that a single parent travelling with kids will need to be better prepared, be less inclined to travel far or get off the beaten track, and will have a tendency to stick to resorts with kids clubs to allow for some self retreat and recharge.
The difference of a single income compared to a dual income in peak holiday season, will generally mean that budgets are tighter.
What are companies doing to change policies for single parents?
Hotel and accommodation booking platforms have upped their game in recent years by asking preferred room configurations upfront before showing room prices.
Historically, it was common practice to advertise a room rate based on two people, which would then double when you realized that it was based on two people being in the room.
Travel insurers have adapted their policy wording so as to not discriminate against varying family structures.
Whilst nearly all insurers offer cover for singles travelling with their children, many tend to offer a discount on a ‘family policy’.
New player in the market Zoom travel insurance ignores the concept of ‘family travel insurance’ altogether and identifies their travellers as adults and dependant children.
Rather than offering a discount to a traditional nuclear family, kids travel free of charge with any adult whether there is one or two. 1Cover travel insurance, Budget Direct and Travel Insurance Direct also take this approach.
It would be great to see other travel service providers making improvements to accommodate family structures beyond the traditional ‘nuclear’ family.
What can be done to accommodate single parents?
Holiday companies and tour operators could certainly benefit from being a bit more inclusive in their approach.
Multiple person discounts, as opposed to family passes based on a two-by-two mould would go a long way to cater for the struggles of lone-parent travel, and assist in making one-on-one time away with your children affordable.
Another example, is where room rates are advised as including breakfast, however if you’re one adult down perhaps a discount could be applied.
Most of all, Ball recommends to be organised and think about the kids.
“All the research tells us that children’s outcomes are improved in every regard when parental conflict is minimised and a child’s needs are prioritised.
“It may be difficult but try to put your feelings aside and take comfort in the knowledge that your children can only benefit from your shared cooperation.”